Mini and single serving desserts are all the rage across the internet these days.  There are more recipes for mug cakes out there than I ever would have imagined, and the craze has extended to cookies and brownies as well.  I love the concept of these desserts; the near instant gratification and the built in portion control, and I desperately wanted to love the desserts themselves but over and over I have been disappointed…

At first I thought to attribute this disappointment to baking in the microwave, so I tried a number of recipes that called for baking in a conventional or toaster oven. In the end they all had the same lackluster results with a longer wait.  It all comes down to the egg.  Some recipes call for a whole egg, some call for an egg yolk and some attempt to replace the egg with milk or cream. The problem is that cooking and baking are essentially forms of chemistry and the chemical make of up eggs play a critical role in the texture of a baked good – in all of these recipes the proportion of egg to other ingredients is off.  As a result, the texture of the final product is off as well.

That is when I decided to see if it was possible to create a single serving dessert recipe will all the same characteristics in the final product as a full batch recipe.  For me, given the choice between cake, cookies or brownies there is simply no contest – it is brownies every time.  So that is where I started.  It took a few tries (I think I ate variations on single serving brownies nightly for about 2 weeks, not that I’m complaining!) but I was successful. The end result is a single serving brownie that comes together quickly, bakes in the oven or microwave and (when baked in the oven or toaster oven) has crisp/chewy edges, fudgy center and an amazing shiny crackly crust on top.

This is a wonderfully flexible recipe – take a look at the results below for the various prep and baking methods and look at the recipe notes for some suggestions on variations and add-ins!


Brownie For One - Classic Prep

This is the end result when using the multiple bowl preparation method. While this is slightly less convenient (and more clean up) I think it is worth it.


Brownie for One - Single Bowl Prep

This is the end result when using the single bowl preparation method. This is definitely a good brownie, but I missed the shiny, crackly top.


Brownie for One - Microwave

This is the end result when baking in the microwave. The brownie stays a bit gooier when baked in the microwave so I don’t recommend attempting to remove it from the baking dish to serve. The dish pictured is an 8 oz ramekin, it leaves the perfect amount of space to drop a nice scoop of ice cream right on top!

Brownie For One - Classic Prep

Brownie for One

Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Brownies, Dessert
Servings 1 brownie


  • 1 tbsp butter unsalted
  • 1 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar packed
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1 pinch instant espresso powder
  • 1 tbsp large egg beaten
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 pinch salt


  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly grease a 3" x 3" aluminum pan.
  • Place butter and bittersweet chocolate in a small microwave safe bowl. Heat in the microwave for 30 seconds or until completely melted (after the first 30 seconds, use 10 second intervals to avoid scorching the chocolate)
  • In a separate small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, espresso powder, vanilla, egg and salt until very well combined (the mixture should be thick, light and most of the sugar should have melted).
  • Using a small spatula, fold in the flour, cocoa powder and any additions such as nuts or chocolate chips Do not over mix.
  • Pour batter into your prepared pan and smooth with a spatula. Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 15 minutes. The edges will be set, the top will be dry, but the center may sill look soft.
  • Allow to cool for about 5 minutes before removing from the pan.

Single Bowl Method

  • If you really want to avoid dirtying multiple bowls, you can prepare the batter in a single bowl. You should be aware that using this preparation method does not result in a classic shiny, crackly brownie top, but if you are looking for single bowl convenience the flavor and interior texture of this method will not disappoint.
  • Melt together the chocolate and butter as in the original instructions.
  • Whisk in the brown sugar, granulated sugar. vanilla and espresso powder until very well combined.
  • Whisk in the egg until well combined.
  • Using a small spatula, fold in the flour, cocoa powder and any additions such as nuts or chocolate chips Do not over mix.
  • Bake in the oven as in the original instructions above, or check the recipe notes for microwave baking instructions.


  • 1 large egg equals about 3 tbsp - freeze the remaining 2 tbsp for the next time you want to make this recipe
  • Any small metal pan will work for this recipe, if you don't have a small square pan try a mini pie plate, mini loaf pan, small round cake pan, etc.  I would avoid a glass baking dish as glass transfers heat differently than metal and will affect the final texture.
  • Get creative with some variations - here are a few to try
    • 1 tbsp of mini chocolate chips
    • ~1 tbsp of nut butter, cookie butter or other spread swirled in after the batter is in the pan
    • ~1 tbsp of marshmallow cream swirled in after the batter is in the pan
    • ~1 tbsp of chopped nuts
    • top with your favorite ice cream and ice cream toppings for a sundae treat
  • If you simply cannot wait 15 minutes for the brownie to bake in a conventional or toaster oven, you can bake it in the microwave instead.  Place the batter in a 6-8 oz greased ramekin and cook on high power for 30-45 seconds.  Start with 30 seconds and check for doneness before adding more time.  The top will be mostly dry, with a few wet streaks or spots.  This is a good time to use the single bowl preparation method as you cannot achieve the classic shiny crackly brownie top with microwave baking.